Having lived in Queensland’s south east for 17 years and providing snake relocation services I’ve heard more than my fair share of supposed ‘taipan’ sightings in properties throughout Brisbane’s western suburbs and Ipswich. Amongst the hundreds of suspected taipans none have ever eventuated in this highly overstated species…until now.
Found caught in a fence in Pullenvale, approximately 15 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD, this 1500 mm male Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) represents the first ever record for the Brisbane western suburbs and the closest ever record to inner Brisbane. The species is considered very rare within the south east with only a handful of reliable records within the greater Brisbane and Ipswich areas over the past 25 years. Having seen road kill Taipan’s in Weipa, Tully and Rockhampton a specimen from a new locality within the south east represents a significant and exciting find for this rapidly aging herper! So significant is this snake for the region it featured on Seven News Brisbane before being lodged with the Queensland Museum.
The Coastal Taipan is the world’s third most venomous land snake. Historically its range extends from northern New South Wales, through eastern Queensland and across the top end of Australia. It averages around 2.3 metres in length but is known to have reached 3 metres. Adult specimens are fast moving effective hunters of large rodents and bandicoots.
In the south east the species records show a clear restriction to suitable habitat within the foothills of ranges such as the D’Aguillar Range. The specimen found at Pullenvale was found within a property that encompassed the southern most foothills of the range extending south from the D’Aguillar.
Unfortunately, an overwhelming number of people mistakenly believe the snake in their backyard or home is a taipan. In actual fact this species is highly alert, very agile and quick to avoid conflict with humans and larger animals. This means that the taipan is rarely seen even in the north of its range where it is believed to be much more common.
To brush up on your identification skills check the Wildlife QLD website, which provides an excellent guide to the most commonly encountered snakes in south east Queensland. If you have a snake you want identified send your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.